kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Throwing together a quick, nutritious meal requires a well-stocked kitchen. However, many of us were caught with our supples low when the coronavirus hit causing many of us to burn through food stores quickly.

Keep a number of healthy, long-lasting staples your pantry, freezer, and fridge and use them to make nutrient-dense meals and snacks even when you’re out of your typical go-to foods.

This is a continuation from last week where I focused on beans, nuts and seeds, and cooking oils.

Himalayan Salt

Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt that’s mined from the Punjab region in Pakistan, particularly in the Khewra Salt Mine. Ninety-eight percent of Himalayan salt is sodium chloride, while the remaining percentage accounts for trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vanadium.

These trace minerals are responsible for Himalayan salt’s unique taste, which is different from table salt, albeit the two are chemically similar. Himalayan salt is less processed and does not contain additives, unlike table salt, which is heavily refined and mixed with anti-caking agents like magnesium carbonate or sodium aluminosilicate.

Salt is essential for life, and your body needs it for optimal function. But it’s important to realize that there are major differences between the refined and highly processed salt found in processed foods and regular table salt, and unrefined natural salt such as Himalayan salt.

There are 84 trace minerals in Himalayan salt that all offer various benefits. Here’s a rundown of five of the most important trace minerals in this salt:

  • Sodium: The body needs it for various functions, as it helps with contracting and relaxing muscles, preventing dehydration and low blood pressure levels and sending nervous system impulses.
  • Calcium: It helps to protect the heart muscles, build strong bones, gums and teeth, inhibits the onset of kidney stones, premenstrual depression and obesity, regulates blood pressure levels and promoting a healthy alkaline pH level.
  • Magnesium: This is a vital component of the body’s biochemical processes. Magnesium also plays a role in promoting proper formation of bones and teeth, relaxing blood vessels, enhancing muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity and promoting creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or the body’s energy currency.
  • Iron: It serves in promoting immune system strength and energy production. Iron’s main function, however, lies in hemoglobin production that is an important step in oxygen transportation throughout the body.
  • Potassium: Himalayan salt contains higher amounts of potassium compared to other natural and unprocessed salts. This helps your body maintain a balanced potassium-to-salt ratio.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is another key staple you don’t want to be without, and, like most spices, it has medicinal qualities that gives it value far beyond its flavor. For example, Europeans have used black pepper for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat inflammation and digestive problems.

Its effectiveness is due in part to a compound known as piperine. Research suggest piperine’s ability to inhibit new fat cells from forming, known as adipogenesis, helps reduce waist size and body fat, and optimizes cholesterol levels.  Perhaps more importantly, research has shown growth of several types of pathogens are inhibited by black pepper, including Staph, E.coli, Helicobacter pylori (bacteria known to cause ulcers), and parasites. So, black pepper not only may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and fever-reducing actions, but immune system-enhancing properties as well.

I recommend using a hand-held mill for grinding fresh peppercorn, as whole peppercorns have an almost indefinite shelf life. Ground pepper only retains optimum freshness for about three months, and is sometimes “adulterated” with something other than black pepper. When cooking, use it at the last moment to retain the full flavor of the essential oils.

Medicinal Spices

All these spices can be bought in bulk at your local co-op. Or source them from organic companies like Frontier Co-op. While virtually all spices have medicinal qualities of some kind, the following stand out:

Turmeric – Turmeric is on the “top 10 superfoods” list in Chinese medicine for millennia and just as long in the Indian Ayurvedic healing tradition.

One component in turmeric, curcumin, has been proven so effective as an anti-inflammatory that it’s compared to prescription medications, without the toxic side effects such as ulcer formation, internal bleeding and a lowered white blood cell count. Its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier also makes it a valuable agent against Alzheimer’s.

Antioxidants in turmeric also neutralize free radicals throughout your body, including your brain, kidney, liver, heart and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, curcumin is important for detoxification.

Ginger – Ginger is a popular remedy to soothe headaches, nausea, and motion sickness. It also treats several problems related to digestive health as well as pain and inflammation from arthritic conditions. Research shows ginger is a viable antidote and protective agent against fatal poisoning from pesticides, environmental pollutants, heavy metals, bacterial and fungal toxins and even some cosmetic products and medications.

Cumin – Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world, second only to black pepper, and is considered by many “the secret sauce” in most savory dishes. Cumin seeds are best known in their ground form as a spice added to curry dishes. Research reveals cumin helps stimulate secretion of pancreatic enzymes, which are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin also has anticancer and antidiabetes properties, attributed to its active components, including terpens, phenols and flavonoids. Cumin has been found to work better than the antidiabetes drug glibenclamide in treating diabetic rats and similar benefits were found in a human study.

Mustard seed – Mustard seed contains compounds that inhibit cancer proliferation and metastasis. It also contains myrosinase which is a compound that augments the cancer-fighting potential of other cruciferous veggies, delivering a double-punch when combined.

Mustard seed powder can also be used in homemade topical remedies, such as plasters and baths to relieve pain. Part of the pain-relieving effect is due to the mustard seed’s high magnesium and selenium content. In Ayurvedic medicine, it was used topically to improve blood circulation and detoxification. Taken internally, 1 teaspoon of mustard seed powder twice a day can be used as a remedy for constipation.

Grains

Whole grains like oats, rice, and quinoa have a much longer shelf life than other popular but perishable carb sources like bread, making them a smart choice for long-term food storage. For example, brown rice can be kept at 50–70℉ for up to 3 months. Grains can be added to soups, salads, and casseroles, making them a versatile non-perishable ingredient. Plus, eating whole grains may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Shelf-Stable Non-Dairy Milk

Shelf-stable nondairy milks are made to be kept at room temperature. This milk is processed and packaged differently than regular milk because it’s heated to higher temperatures and packed in sterile containers. Plant-based drinks like soy milk packaged in flexible materials, including plastic, paper, and aluminum, last up to 10 months, while canned coconut milk keeps up to 5 years at room temperature. Shelf-stable and plant-based milks can be used when refrigeration isn’t available. Powdered milk is a good alternative, with an estimated shelf life of 3–5 years when kept in a cool, dark place. It can be reconstituted with clean water in small portions as needed. I use coconut cream whipped with maple syrup for topping on cakes and berries.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a  natural sweetener that offers unique health benefits. Maple syrup is rich in antioxidants and contains small amounts of nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Maple syrup can be used to add flavor and depth to both sweet and savory recipes.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are delicious and versatile, and they offer a number of health benefits. Research has shown that they can improve digestive health and may help reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels. These foods are long lasting, so you can stock up without worrying about food waste. For example, sauerkraut and pickles can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months. These foods can be eaten straight out of the jar, or use them as toppings for salads and other dishes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made via a two-step process. First, the manufacturer exposes crushed apples to yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Next, they add bacteria to further ferment the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid which is the main active compound in vinegar.

Acetic acid gives vinegar its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar’s health benefits. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid.

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called “mother”, which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.

The “mother” is a cobweb-like amino acid-based substance found in unprocessed, unfiltered vinegar, indicates your vinegar is of the best quality. Most manufacturers pasteurize and filter their vinegar to prevent the mother from forming, but the “murky” kind is actually best.

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is easily one of the most economical and versatile remedies around. I recommend keeping it in your home at all times. Some of the health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar include:

  • Blood sugar control – Vinegar is said to be anti-glycemic and has a beneficial effect on your blood sugar, likely due to its acetic acid content. Acetic acid prevents the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates. Another theory is that vinegar helps inactivate digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugar, thus slowing the conversion of complex carbohydrate into sugar and preventing a spike by giving you more time to pull sugar out of your blood.  A small study suggests vinegar may improve insulin sensitivity by 19–34% during a high carb meal and significantly lower blood sugar and insulin response. In another small study in 5 healthy people, vinegar reduced blood sugar by 31.4% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
  • Apple cider vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.  There are studies supporting the use of vinegar as a diabetic treatment. One study found vinegar treatment improved insulin sensitivity in 19 percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes and 34 percent of those with prediabetes.  One study with diabetics reported that consuming 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduced fasting blood sugar by 4% the following morning.
  • Heart health – Polyphenols such as chlorogenic acid help inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol and acetic acid helps lower blood pressure. Vinegar has also been shown to lower triglyceride levels and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in animals.
  • Weight management – Vinegar may aid weight loss by increasing satiety, another effect attributed to acetic acid. When volunteers consumed a small amount of vinegar along with a high-carb meal (a bagel and juice) they consumed less food for the remainder of the day. The reduction equated to about 200 to 275 calories a day.Furthermore, a study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss:
    • taking 1 tablespoon (12 mL) led to a loss of 2.6 pounds
    • taking 2 tablespoons (30 mL) led to a loss of 3.7 pounds
  • Sinus congestion – Apple cider vinegar’s ability to break up and reduce mucus in your body can help clear your sinuses. It also has antibacterial properties, making it useful for infections. Here’s what to do: Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm filtered water. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Using a neti pot, pour the mixture into one nostril at a time, while plugging the other nostril with the other hand.
  • Sore throat – The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar may be useful for sore throats as well. Gargle with a mixture of about one-third cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water as needed.
  • Digestive ailments – Acid reflux typically results from a lack of stomach acid. You can easily improve the acid content of your stomach by taking 1 tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water daily. The pectin in apple cider vinegar may also help to soothe intestinal spasms. For everyday gut health, a mixture of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of maple syrup in 1 cup of warm water can help.
  • Skin irritations and warts –  Apple cider vinegar is a common remedy for skin conditions like dry skin and eczema. The skin is naturally slightly acidic. Using topical apple cider vinegar could help rebalance the natural pH of the skin, improving the protective  skin barrier. Given its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar can help prevent skin infections linked to eczema and other skin conditions. Some people use diluted apple cider vinegar in a facewash or toner. The idea is that it can kill bacteria and prevent spots.People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, and ear infections.Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.

    Apple cider vinegar also works for a variety of skin ailments, from bug bites and poison ivy to sunburn and even warts. You can either apply it directly to the irritated area or try soaking in a bath with about 1 cup of vinegar added. For warts, soak a cotton ball in vinegar and apply it to the wart, covered, overnight. Repeat until the wart disappears.

  • Energy boost – Apple cider vinegar contains potassium and enzymes to help with fatigue. Plus, its amino acids may help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in your body, further preventing fatigue.
  • Detox and immune support – Studies have shown apple cider vinegar can be beneficial for liver detoxification and helps cleanse your lymphatic system, which can contribute to improved immune system response. According to The Truth About Cancer: “Cider vinegar was … determined to be a strong antimicrobial agent … One of the most fatal bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is resistant to disinfectants but is found to be killed by acetic acid. Especially in patients who are immunosuppressed, apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural antimicrobial tonic to rid of harmful bacteria and provide immune support.”
  • Candida – Candida overgrowth in your gut has been linked to many different health issues, including yeast infections, fatigue, poor memory, depression, headaches and sugar cravings.  Candida overgrowth usually happens when your body is too acidic from excessive consumption of processed foods or sugar, or if there are insufficient healthy bacteria in your system. Because apple cider vinegar is fermented with a beneficial yeast, it can serve as a prebiotic for healthy bacteria, essentially helping good bacteria grow.

How to Buy

Bragg’s seems to be the most popular option, which is available in most markets.  Always buy condiments, including apple cider vinegar, in glass bottles. If you cannot find something in glass. Keep it out of the sun on your way home from the store and transfer it to a glass container.

How to Store

The acidity of the vinegar effectively ensures that no bacteria will grow in it. Plus, vinegar is itself a preservative, which negates any need to preserve it by putting it in the fridge. It is recommended, however, that you store it in a cool place away from direct sunlight to keep the quality and flavor.

To maximize the shelf life of apple cider vinegar, keep the bottle tightly sealed after opening. Properly stored, apple cider vinegar will generally stay edible for about 2 years, but will stay safe indefinitely.

 

How to Cook

The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in cooking. It’s a simple addition to foods like salad dressing.

Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons to 1–2 tablespoon per day mixed in a large glass of water.

It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts. Too much vinegar can cause harmful side effects, including tooth enamel erosion and potential drug interactions.

Apple Cider Vinegar Coleslaw

Brittany Mullins /Photo Credit - Eating Bird Food

5 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl toss together shredded cabbage and carrots.
  2. Combine vinegar, maple syrup, dry mustard, celery seed, salt and ground pepper in a small bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Let mixture sit for at least 10 minutes in the fridge, stir and serve.

This recipe can be made ahead of time and will taste better after having a little time to marinate. Will last in the fridge for 4-5 days.

 

Resources

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